getting engagement right 1280x720 e1515404706731 - Motivating Your Staff – and preventing their desire to leave you.


Some have it by the truckload; others, not so much. It can depend on so many outside influences it’s amazing we ever get anything done. Life is full to the brim; work, play, life commitments – so squeezing in even more, whether it’s something you want to do or achieve, or something you have to do or achieve, you’re going to need a whole barrow load of it.

Motivating others – surely that’s even harder?

To motivate someone else you’re going to have to see if they have the self-discipline and natural reward to do it for themselves or if you’re going to need to put that imaginary firework underneath them to achieve what it is you need from them. Keeping your staff working hard and earning their loyalty too means you’re going to need to understand the mechanics of motivation and how to use them to your advantage.

Some Psychology Behind the How.

Hertzberg’s Two-Factor Theory

Frederick Herzberg two-factor theory decided Motivator Factors lead to satisfaction, happy workers, and greater results; and that Hygiene Factors led to the opposite. Feeling like part of the team, enjoying the work, their progression through career roles, they were all positives, yet if parts of their work life lacked what they felt important; low salaries, poor benefits, unhealthy relationships, it adversely instilled a desire to go find those things they needed elsewhere.

Simple enough right? Treat your staff like people. Talk to them. Reward them. Don’t take them for granted and help them feel like they belong – surely that shouldn’t be too hard?

For many staff however, even when their employers or team leaders think they’re getting it right they’re probably not. So don’t assume anything. Acquire real data. Ask your workers what would make them happy. Only they can tell you what they want and if they do then you’re half way there. How you do that is up to you. Regular and open appraisals of both sides are a great opportunity to hear their needs and could go a long way raising their sense of worth and in turn their motivation.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow decided that unless some basics needs were met by an individual they weren’t ever going to become motivated to achieve at a higher level. That’s right. Motivated to achieve at a higher level.

Those basics needs were few: physiological – food, sleep, shelter; safety security, health, wellbeing; love/belonging friendships, relationships, family; esteem a need to feel confident and respected; self-actualisation – and this is the big one, the desire to become the best version of you and achieve everything that comes with it.

To best utilise the findings from this method, again it points to giving staff value within their role. To feel appreciated and have that reason to strive. Self-actualisation.

This isn’t just in the work environment though, so it would help to make efforts to ensure staff are healthy and happy in their home lives too if at all possible. You can help there with fair salaries, flexible hours, the simple understanding that they’re humans too, not just automatons powering the workplace profit machine, and by working with them when they have problems that an ease in pressure or a short term relaxed schedule at work could offer.

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect could so easily be misunderstood and abused. The science shows that people work much harder when they know they’re being observed. So let’s stand behind our workers with a whip and a cosh!

Perhaps not.

A better way to implement this is with regular monitoring and discussions about their work role. Problem solving together can make someone feel much more motivated as a team player than hitting the same brick wall all on their own.

Another point of interest while gathering the data for this practice was that while making improvements to the working environment it gave staff a feeling of being cared for and appreciation. Each individual change brought an increase in productivity.

Expectancy Theory

This one’s easy. People will behave relatively to what they expect the outcome from their efforts to earn them. Do more – get more. The problem with this is that we don’t always believe our efforts will pay off. So the rewards or achievements hoped for have to be a likely pay-off of real value and that the effort it will take is personally achievable. It doesn’t always have to be for financial gain – the reward could be personal, not financial, but they are rewards as a return on their investment all the same.

Three Dimensional Theory of Attribution

Bernard Weiner believed people want to know WHY? and if they understood WHY it would become a motivation (or lack of) factor the next time a similar situation arose. He learned that the important part of understanding wasn’t so much the WHYS but the attributions to them. The HOW of the WHY. Was the reason for failing a stable one? Acts of God are unlikely to happen twice so that WHY may be an unrealistic HOW. Was the event caused by an outside influence not to be repeated, or one that could be? Could you have controlled what happened better given a second chance or was there no control to be had? Keep asking the HOWs of the WHY.

The best way to put this into real life practice and make it work for you is by attaining feedback.

So we’re back to communication. Talk to your staff. Discuss shortcomings and successes. Learn the WHYs and ask all about the HOWs. Understand their effects in order to boost the good ones and remove the bad.

Conclusions and Those All Important Practical Motivators

So now we know the science – what can we do?

The common themes throughout each scientific theory are Reward and Communicate.

The ways you can reward your staff are numerous. A simple bonus for a particular project result, commissions on sales, a pay-rise or promotion for continuing long-term efforts, prizes for project achievements such as extra time off. Time has been a proven currency of good will to so many people. Just look how we yearn for that extra day off a bank holiday brings. The day off might be worth three times more to your staff than its financial equivalent. And how will you know? Well, you’ll just have to ask won’t you?

Listen to your staff to find out what they really want. Don’t give them a case of wine if they drink beer. Use what they tell you. These should all be mechanisms to help your staff gain a physical or financial benefit in return for the extra hard work you are asking them to give continually. It has to be worth their while.

Give them the personal development they need. Offer them incentives of achievement. Help them grow. Organise training but in your time not their own – or meet them half way if they want something you can’t quite give them. Don’t give with one hand only to take it away with the other. Show them you value them. Work with them.

Build the relationships that count. Try developing Company Days to openly communicate all that is going on in the business so they can feel part of the bigger picture. Listen to their part in current projects. Be a two way street not just the hand that cracks the whip. Team Building is so important but if you’re going down the traditional routes, again, make sure you do it in company time. A lot of your staff will hate these activities being forced on them despite the benefits to you – but it could well be a better option than another day stuck at their desk?

And as research suggests, especially within the millennial generation, that happiness and personal satisfaction is becoming more important than financial gain from our working lives now both are becoming so closely linked, and it would seem the key to this is communication. Ask your staff what they want. Listen and find a way to meet their needs. If you can do this you’ll grow happy and motivated employees that won’t go looking for their happy somewhere else.

And if you get it right, well, why would they?

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